The main reason why I wanted to write this letter is because I do not have a daughter and so many things that I would have told her, I have no one to tell. There are other things I tell my only son in the hope that he will be happy and spread happiness too. While that job is still on, I do think of the various things I would have told my daughter, had I had one.
There are many articles on the Internet talking about the issues between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. There are even pieces where the mother-in-law is eloquently proclaiming love for her future daughter-in-law without even knowing the kind of person who is likely to enter the family. All that because she believes that the daughter-in-law will love her son (someone she loves dearly). I profess to make no such claims!
Whether we have a relationship at all and how it will be depends on the kind of people we are and how our personalities match. I am sure we will behave like mature adults and work our way through it if we do want a relationship.
Then without further ado, here are some of the things I would like to share.
To my daughter-in-law to be:
Be Yourself – Right from the Very Start
It is not uncommon for the new daughter-in-law to behave in a manner that is always pleasant. This is an attempt to make a good impression and ensure that feathers are not ruffled right at the very start. Being fake will not help in the long run and if you are here to make long term relationships, then it is must that you stay true to your own nature and personality. Don’t get up early in the mornings if you are not a morning person. Don’t touch your elder’s feet if it irks you. Real respect is far more valued here than the show of respect.
Don’t Operate from Fear
Throw caution to the wind and do what you think is right. You are a human being and have a mind of your own – use it! No one has the right to judge what you think is right or wrong. The only thing that you will be left with if you operate from a stand point of fear is ‘regret’. And this realization may come a little too late in life when you may not be able to do the things you want to do. Don’t worry about what others will say and don’t feel any pressure to become a part of the family. You will bring your own flavor to the family and we will learn to love you for that (my son did)! If you are not stepping on anyone’s toes, you are good to go.
Don’t Wait for Anyone to Draw Lines – Draw Your Own
You and your husband have had a different upbringing. The definitions of right and wrong, the morally right thing, the given rules of society are likely to be different. Base your decisions on what you think is right. At the same time, do what you think you can justify to yourself while being objective and true to yourself. Avoid doing things that will lead others to draw lines for you. How much you allow someone into your life is your decision.
Don’t Bother About Expectations
Expectations kill us – when we expect from others and when we try and live up to the expectations of others too. If you expect things from people, you will be let down some time or another. This is not because your loved one wants to hurt you but because he is his own person and may not operate in a manner that you think right. Give the other person the same respect that you want and let them make their decisions without the pressure of your expectations.
At the same time, don’t bother about what other people expect from you too, irrespective of whether it is your husband, mother-in-law or society. Don’t learn to cook because it is expected of the wife to cook in the house. Don’t work because almost everyone in your social circle is working. Don’t attend social functions because you should have many friends. Cook if you enjoy cooking. Work if you feel that it will help you grow as a human being. Be social if you enjoy the company of the people you are meeting.
It is a common belief that expectations are natural in close relationships and that if there are no expectations then there is no relationship. This is one of the biggest fallacies in life. You can enjoy another human being without expectations. You can live with another human being without becoming a leech on them by burdening them with your hopes and desires. In fact, the purest form of love is to have no expectations because then you can allow the one you love to be ‘themselves’.
Understand that Love (the mushy valentine type) Fades Over Time
While it is advisable that you be yourself even during the courtship period and not fall prey to mushy demonstrations, the fact is that these hormones are a killer. It is inevitable that this will happen to you too. Be aware that the mush will die down and the mundane realities of life will descend on you sometimes. If you have found a true companion in my son, these times will pass happily and easily.
Don’t Lose Your Individuality
At any cost, don’t lose yourself because you started identifying yourself as someone’s wife and later as someone’s mother. Don’t stop doing the things that you enjoy and continue them without the feeling of any guilt.
Remain Financially Independent
Despite the pressures the come with managing a household (along with your husband) and motherhood, try and remain financially independent. The ability to make your own decisions about the places you will go visit, the kind of clothes that you can buy, the curtains you want in your house and much more is possible with the confidence that comes with financial independence. Not only will it give you that power, it will also help you stay connecting with other people outside of the home environment.
Make Independent Relationships
It is common for many couples to start living a life that involves doing everything together. They go for trips, movies, parties and pretty much everything together. It can be stifling for both at times! Have a few friends that are just yours. It is also not necessary for you like and hate the same people. If your husband does not like someone, you don’t have to stop talking to them too. And just because someone is your husbands friend does not mean that you find them interesting. Give each other space and you will love the fact that both of you want to come back to each other.
And Last of All Children!
Have these bundles of joy when you are ready and when you want to. It is pertinent that both of you want to opt for children. It is not a decision that should be taken by one person and definitely not one that is taken under duress (I promise to never force or subtly hint at a grandchild as most mothers-in-law do). Be prepared to have a lot of fun with your bunnies. Don’t miss out on any phase of their lives. Regardless of what you think right now, they will soon be teenagers.
Be aware that this can be a rocky road for some. Love your children for what they are and not what you want them to become. My oft quoted line from a poem by Khalil Gibran is
“They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”
Last of all, ENJOY life in whatever you do and have fun!
What would you like to tell your future (or current) daughter-in-law? Share your thoughts!